Saturday, June 02, 2007

Self-publishing/ self-criticism

There is a place for self-publishing. It's quite nice if somebody has written a history of their family and they want to have it as a book to pass on to children and relatives. If somebody has written a manual for the kind of machine only dozens perhaps hundreds will use. Maybe someone has written a local history of a village that will only be of interest to people from that village. Yes, there are a few select areas where self-publishing is a good idea.

Unfortunately, most self-publishing is pure delusion.

We had a submission this morning from a woman who has published a novel through an outfit called AuthorHOUSE and was wondering if we'd be good enough to stock it. She can't write. I mean she really cannot write. Just because you can put words down on a page in a legible order doesn't mean you're a writer. Somebody should have told her and this is the bit where I get annoyed. I don't know how much AuthorHOUSE have charged her but I imagine it's not cheap - she's had bookmarks printed and flyers - and it's fraud. They've led her to believe that paying to have her book 'published' will help her in a writing career. This is just plain deception.

Of course there are exceptions - GP Taylor started out self-published and more or less through sheer force of will got himself a deal and sold thousands - but they are few and far between. If you look on the AuthorHOUSE link above and click on the box that asks what is the most important reason to publish I reckon only one or two of the answers is remotely acceptable. The rest are offering the bait of career and it's ripping people off.

Of course one should be self-critical enough to realise that you can't write/paint/compose to save your life. There's nothing wrong with that. There comes a time in all our lives when the realisation hits that you will never be a Movie Director (I was 23). That's OK, move on.

But if you really, really, really still want to write because you have to well, you're reading the answer - it's what the internet was invented for, it's free and who knows, if your ramblings get read and people like it then you may well get published anyway by somebody who wants to try and make you a bit of money not fleece you from it.


  1. Mind you, this doesn't look half bad

  2. Well, there is a place for self-publishing and that place is getting bigger. There are loads of reasons why a good book, especially by a new author, should NOT be taken to a traditional publisher. There is junk out there, but there is also some good stuff. Keep your mind open.


  3. It is wonderful to see the self-publishing costs sink. For what would be more delightful than to leave a family journal for your children or grandchildren, or even, write the novel we all apparently have in us. I just think it is very naive to think you can jump-start your career as a published author using self-published work.

    Self-published books will never become the YouTube of young musicians.

  4. Hurrah! Self-publishing is the bane of my life. I completely agree with you - it's fine for niche markets like local history, but poetry, fiction and biographies are generally a waste of everyone's time.

  5. Makes perfect sense to me, and then I go and read this on about a self-published book that was just picked up by the publishers who signed J.K. Rowling!